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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS PREMIER  (D 23) - Ruler-class Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Slinger, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

RULER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier  (Also designated CVE) was obtained under the US/UK  Lend-Lease/Lease Agreement. The ship was a C3 mercantile hull ordered by the US Navy from the Seattle-Tacoma SB Corporation and being converted during build for use as an Escort Aircraft Carrier. The ship was laid down on  31st October  1942. and launched on 22nd March 1943 as USS ESTERO (CVE42). Build was completed on 31st October 1943 and she was renamed HMS PREMIER when formally transferred to the Royal Navy on 3rd November 1943. This name had been used for vessels hired during WW1 but this was its first use for a major warship.  She was fitted out for use as  an Escort Carrier and was fitted with US Navy radar outfits.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1944 - NORWAY 1945 - ARCTIC  1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field, Blue, a Bezant thereon a  billet Black  within  a

wreath  of roses  Red,  leaved  Green.



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 4 3


October                  Contractor's trials.

                31st         Build completion and carried out sea trials.



                3rd          Formal transfer and renamed HMS PREMIER.

                                Passage to Esquimalt for modifications to suit RN use.

                11th        Taken in hand for modification by HM Canadian Dockyard,


December              Under modification                             


1 9 4 4


January                  Prepared for ocean passage on completion of dockyard work

                9th          Sailed for Panama from Esquimalt.

                                (Note: Call in west coast USA port to be confirmed.)



                17th        Transit of Panama Canal.

                25th        Arrived in Norfolk, Va



                6th          Took passage to UK

                                (Note: Embarkation of aircraft for transport to UK and passage with a routine convoy

                                to be confirmed.)

                20th        Arrived in Liverpool

                29th        Allocated for deployment as a ferry carrier and took passage for Norfolk.



                11th        Arrived at Norfolk Navy Yard and embarked aircraft for transport to UK

                26th        Arrived in Liverpool and unloaded aircraft.

                                Nominated for further ferry trip.


May                        Passage to Norfolk to collect aircraft.

                12th        Arrived at Norfolk

                31st         Arrived in Liverpool and taken in hand for repair

                                (Note: Passage with a routine convoy to be confirmed.)


June                        Under repair.


July                         Under repair.

                7th          Nominated for future deployment as an operational carrier


August                  Under repair.



                5th          Carried out post repair trials on completion of shipyard work.

                13th        Embarked 12 AVENGER aircraft and personnel of 856 Squadron.

                                Deployed in Clyde area to wok-up for operational service in Home Fleet.



                13th        On completion of work-up took passage to Clyde for routine maintenance.


November              Nominated for air minelay operations and attacks on shipping off Norway.

                10th        Took passage to join Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

                17th        Deployed with HM Cruiser DIADEM and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier PURSUER screened

                                by HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT. SCORPION and SCOURGE as Force 3 for air minelay.

                                (Operation HANDFAST).

                20th        Carried out minelaying in Kara Sound.

                21st         Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 3.

                26th        Deployed with HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier

                                PURSUER to carry out air attacks on shipping between Mosjoen and Rorvik.

                                (Operation PROVIDENT).

                27th        Returned to Scapa Flow with HMS PURSUER due to weather conditions.

                                (Note HMS IMPLACABLE was able to execute attacks during which two ships were sunk.


December              Embarked four AVENGER aircraft and personnel of 846 Squadron.

                6th          Deployed with HM Aircraft Carriers IMPLACABLE and TRUMPETER, HM Cruiser DIADEM

                                screened by HM Destroyers ZEALOUS, ZAMBESI, VIGILANT, SAVAGE, SERAPIS, Canadian

                                destroyers ALGONQUIN, SIOUX and Norwegian destroyer STORD as Force 1 for a joint

                                anti-shipping strike and air minelay off Norwegian coast (Operation URBANE).

                7th          Aircraft carried out minelay in Kara Sound and attacks on shore targets.

                8th          Aircraft carried out attacks on shipping between Bergen and Stavanger.

                9th          Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 1.

                12th        Sailed from Scapa Flow for minelay.

                14th        Deployed with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier PREMIER and a

                                destroyer screen comprising HM Destroyers ZEALOUS, ZEPHYR, SAVAGE, SERAPIS,

                                SIOUX (RCN) and ALGONQUIN (RCN) (Force 2) for joint shipping strike and air minelay.

                                (Operation LACERATE).

                                Air minelay carried out in Ramosund.

                                Under air attack by Ju88, one of which was destroyed.

                                Two AVENGER aircraft crashed on landing without casualties.

                                Diversionary air strikes on air fields at Hammerfest and Banak not possible due to low cloud

                                in target areas.

                                Later one aircraft ranged on deck lost overboard. in bad weather.

                                Planned air minelay in Skatestromme cancelled due to deteriorating weather

                                (Note: Minelay in Skatestrommen was cancelled after Force was shadowed.

                15th        Ship sustained weather damage.

                17th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 2

                                Repair arranged in Clyde shipyard and passage to Greenock

                23rd        Under repair in commercial shipyard.


1 9 4 5


January                  Returned passage to resume Home Fleet duties.

                                Embarked 20 WILDCAT aircraft and personnel of 881 Squadron

                11th        Deployed as Force 3 with HM Cruiser DIDO, HMS TRUMPETER, HM Destroyers

                                OPPORTUNE, CAVENDISH, ZEST, ZODIAC and Motor Torpedo Boats for Air-Sea

                                Rescue duties.

                                (Operation GRATIS - This was an air minelay in Karm Sound and was a part of major

                                Home Fleet operation to attack shipping and lay a minefield off Utsira Is. by HM Cruiser

                                Cruiser APOLLO (Operation SPELLBINDER).

                12th        Carried out mixed air minelay in Karm Sound.

                13th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 3.

                                (For details of all minelaying operations see the Naval Staff History (Mining)).

                24th        Deployed with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier PREMIER to cover night air attacks by

                                HM Escort Aircraft Carrier CAMPANIA on shipping off Vaagso, Norway

                                (Operation WINDED)

                28th        Deployed with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers CAMPANIA and NAIRANA to carry

                                out night air attacks on shipping near Vaagso.

                                Provided cover during air strikes by HMS CAMPANIA.

                29th        Returned to Scapa Flow.



                11th        Deployed with HMS DEVONSHIRE, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier PUNCHER screened by HM

                                Destroyers CAVENDISH, CAVALIER, SCOURGE and ZEBRA as Force 2 to carry out an air

                                minelay in Skatestrommen (Operation SELENIUM)

                                (Note: This was part of a coincident shipping strike by Force 1 off Bud which

                                was unsuccessful. See above reference.)

                13th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 2.

                22nd       Deployed as Force 4 with HMS DIDO, HMS PUNCHER, HM Destroyers MYNGS, SCORPION

                                and CAVALIER for a combined air minelay and shipping strike in Karm Sound.

                                (Operation GROUNDSHEET).

                                (Note: This was part of Home Fleet Operation SHRED and included the clearance of

                                mines by 10th Minesweeping Flotilla to reduce length of passage to Norway

                                (Operation WINNER).

                                The minelay was carried out under fire and two aircraft were lost.

                23rd        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 4.



                19th        Deployed with HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers SEARCHER and QUEEN

                                screened by HM Destroyers ONSLOW, ZEST, SERAPIS, HAIDA (RCN) and IROQUOIS (RCN)

                                as Force 1 to carry out dual shipping and shore strikes and air minelay.

                                (Operation CUPOLA).

                20th        Carried out aircraft minelay at Askevold and attacks on shore targets.

                                (Note: This was first operation by HMS SEARCHER and HMS QUEEN was still working-

                                up for service. The minelay was later declared as very successful.)

                                Last dual minelay with airstrikes, the first was in August 1944.)

                21st         Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 1

                                Passage to Clyde for repair of defects.



                1st           Resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                18th        Joined Russian Convoy JW66 with HMS BELLONA, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier V1NDEX, HM

                                Destroyers OFFA, ZEALOUS, ZEPHYR, ZEST, ZODIAC, Canadian destroyers HAIDA,

                                HURON, IROQUOIS and Norwegian destroyer STORD to support Close Escort during passage

                                to Kola Inlet (Operation ROUNDEL – Provision of air cover.).

                26th        Arrived at Kola Inlet with JW66 after uninterrupted passage.

                                (Note: Passage into Kola Inlet was cleared of awaiting submarines by a special anti-submarine

                                'Search and Destroy' operation.)

                29th        Sailed from Kola Inlet as escort for passage to UK on return Convoy RA66 with the

                                same ships and also Home Fleet units previously engaged in anti-submarine minelay

                                off Kola Inlet (Operation TRAMMEL).

                                (Note: Anti-submarine operations were carried out off Kola Inlet before sailing

                                of RA66 by Close Escort. For details of all Russian Convoys see CONVOYS

                                TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman, THE RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS by B Schoefield and CONVOY! by P Kemp. This was the last Russian



                6th          Detached from RA66 with HMS BELLONA and HMS VINDEX to resume Home Fleet duties.

                21st         Nominated for service as a deck landing training carrier based in Clyde.

                                Under repair in Clyde.


June                        Under repair



                24th        Commenced deck landing training role in Clyde.


August                  Deck landing training duties in continuation.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS PREMIER was taken in hand for refit in Clyde shipyard at the end of September 1945 but later nominated for return to US Navy. The ship was de-stored in Rosyth dockyard  but did not take passage to USA until April 1946 After formal transfer to US Navy custody on 12th April the ship was placed on the Sales List and sold for use as a mercantile in 1947. During subsequent service she was renamed RHODESIA STAR in 1948 and HONG KONG KNIGHT in 1967. The ship was sold for breaking-up at Kaohsiung. Taiwan in 1974. and arrived at the breaker’s yard on 10th February that year.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








JW 066





RA 066








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 16/10/10
further editing and formatting is required